Supersonic Blues Machine – West of Flushing, South of Frisco (2016)

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The debut album by Supersonic Blues Machine — the brainchild of producer-bassist Fabrizio Grossi — calls on an impressive array of rock and blues talent. The core band includes Grossi on bass and backing vocals, Lance Lopez on guitar and vocals and ace drummer Kenny Aronoff, and they provide a sonic palette which is inspiring and powerful.

Grossi — an in-demand figure who has worked with Neal Schon, Steve Lukather, Slash, George Clinton and Tony Harnell of Skid Row, among others — reconnected with Texas-based guitarist Lance Lopez back in 2012 and was inspired by the meeting. (Lopez has worked with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Joe Bonamassa, and toured with Johnnie Taylor and Lucky Peterson.) Flash forward to a chance conversation between Grossi and Lukather, where Grossi asked about jamming with Kenny Aronoff, of John Mellencamp and John Fogerty fame. Lukather introduced the two, and that ultimately led to Supersonic Blues Machine’s West of Flushing, South of Frisco from the Mascot Label Group.

“Miracle Man,” the lead-off song, starts West of Flushing, South of Frisco on a bluesy note with a combination of swamp lap steel guitar and acoustics supporting Lance Lopez’s soul-drenched vocals. By the time Kenny Aronoff’s freight-train drum comes in with Grossi’s rock solid bass, you know you are in for a treat from Supersonic Blues Machine. Fabrizio Grossi’s production on West of Flushing, South of Frisco is both modern and organic, never getting in the way of his lyrics of the excellent playing.

“Running Whiskey” is the first Supersonic Blues Machine song featuring a special guest. The track was composed by Grossi with Billy Gibbons and bass prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld. The song’s stripped down approach works fine, giving Gibbons’ voice and lead guitar a chance to shine through but not overshadow the excellent rhythm section. “Remedy” uses a similar formula to “Running Whiskey,” but slows things up. Here, Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule) sings powerful lyrics — written by Grossi — about winners and losers and ups and downs of life. The lyrics are standard blues fare, but effectively cast in the setting which provided Haynes and Lopez to trade inspiring solos.

“Bone Bucket Blues” features Lance Lopez’s lead vocals and lead guitar, with touches of Hammond organ by Fabrizio Grossi. Lopez’s multi-tracked guitar dances around his growling lead vocals, and a grimy shuffle from Kenny Aronoff and Grossi. It’s a ZZ Top feel at its finest. “Let It Be” finds Supersonic Blues Machine adding in organist Sam Lusting for a slow-cooking blues, as the rhythm section holds back just enough to increase the sonic tension.

“Let’s Call It a Day” brings in jazz/blues legend Robben Ford, and Ford and Lopez seamlessly trade guitar solos over the slow burning, yet perfectly laid down back beat. “Whatchagonnado” confirms what the prior tracks on Supersonic Blues Machine’s West of Flushing, South of Frisco have already told you. The jaunty and inspired beat by Kenny Aronoff and punchy bass by Fabrizio Grossi keep things moving, while Lance Lopez provides a wah-wah drenched solo.

The song ends almost too soon, but I guess it’s probably best that we get used to wanting more from the Supersonic Blues Machine. After all, these guys are so busy with their day jobs that it may be a long wait to follow-up this stellar blues project.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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